For the past few months I was teaching a bible class titled "A Fresh Look at Old Stories" for the young couples at our church. Each week we would look at a "classic" story in the bible and try to do two things: 1) Discover details and facts we didn't remember, and 2) Apply it to life in 21st Century America.
Here are a few of the details we discussed that aren't covered in children's bible school:
1 -- Moses and the Exodus
Most of us remember Moses for leading the Israelites out of Egypt. But some of us may not realize that this is really the third chapter of Moses' life. He had already spent 40 years in the palace of the Pharoah, and another 40 years as a nomadic sheep-herder. Also, God told Moses that he and the elders were only to ask permission to leave for a 3-day trip, not for good. But we know that once they left they never returned to slavery in Egypt. Sounds like the "3-day worship tour" concept could have been the basis for a tv show thousands of years later:
2 -- Crossing of the Red Sea
There's plenty of debate over exactly where God parted the waters for the crossing of the Red Sea (and even if it was a different body of water altogether), but based on best guesses of archaeologists, it's a pretty cool visualization:
--The crossing path was probably ten miles long and at least a half-mile wide to accomodate over 2 million people
--They would have walked downhill for a mile or two, then flat across the bottom for a few miles, then uphill to the other side
--At the bottom, the walls of water could have been over 5,000 feet high on either side of them! For comparison, the tallest building in the U.S. is Chicago's Sears Tower at 1,700 feet (including steeple/antenna). It would take three of them to equal the height of the water that was parted for the Israelites as they walked across the sea floor.
3 -- Lefties have it right
During our study of David's battle against Goliath, we talked about the type of sling David used, based again on archaeologists' discoveries. While discussing the incredible accuracy of this weapon, we ran across a passage in Judges chapter 20 regarding the Israelite army which had "700 chosen men who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss."
Why were all the slingers left-handed? A sling is a sling, with no inherent advantage to either hand, so the weapon doesn't favor lefties. And major league baseball has proven that lefties aren't always accurate ("Wild Thing" Mitch Williams was left-handed; Dennis Eckersely was right-handed and had incredible control).
Finally a military strategy book led me to the answer -- when you have a line of sword-bearing infantrymen, they all need to be holding the sword in the same hand for efficiency and safety. It's like putting lefties and righties together at the dinner table... someone is getting a good dose of elbow during the meal. In battle though, instead of an elbow, a lefty in the line could accidently cut off his fellow soldier's arm or head. Hence, it's a pretty good idea to stick those guys in another unit, like the slinger unit.
And that's why the slingers were all left-handed... nobody would give them a sword and let them anywhere near the infantry line.